Monday, March 8, 2010

BREAKING THROUGH!

Wow! What a great weekend this was! Finally lots of terrific sunshine in a brilliant clear blue sky, temperatures above 40 and no more sinus infection!

AND DAD WAS RIGHT…the car DOES run better when it’s clean. For years and years Dad always insisted that cars run better when they're clean - inside and out. After weeks of salt and grime, Robert (my car) finally got a good brush down and I think he felt better too. So, maybe just this one time Dad might have been right.

The weekend was pretty much about getting out and about, spending time with some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while and reintroducing ourselves to a bit of 1960’s style via an evening with Mad Men season 1.

FRIDAY FISH FRY
I’ve been craving fried fish for more than a month now. Last Lenten season Bev, Nancy and I headed out to find some good fish fries and actually found an outstanding one at St. Mary’s in Hudson. This year, because the weather has been so crummy, we hadn’t had an opportunity to get out to try out anything new so I turned to an old reliable neighborhood bar – The Ido. They do an “all you and eat” fish every Friday and it’s excellent. Served with a pile of French fries, very good cole slaw and a side of hot sauce, there is much more on the plate than I can eat at one sitting. I think it satisfied my fish fry craving for several months to come.

The Ido is actually a favorite hang-out for lunch and I usually eat there once a week. The food is all outstanding, their burgers are wonderful (and Wednesdays are half-price burger days) and the soup/sandwich daily lunch specials are quick and filling. Getting there from downtown is a cinch (straight out High Street which turns into Main) and service is fast and mostly friendly. I’ve been eating here since my high-school days and its just as outstanding now as back then. Check out the menu – they post their lunch specials on line weekly - and visit if you can http://www.idobar.com/ Try the stuffed pepper soup, the chicken tortilla soup, the wedding soup, the creamy chicken noodle soup………well, you get the idea.

DAY TRIP
Saturday was my favorite wine tasting activity up at Western Reserve Wines in Solon – their semi-monthly 12 wines under $12 event. Cathy and I headed up to try out the line up and the place was packed. It was a beautiful day and for $5 for all the wine you care to taste, it drew a good sized crowd of wine tasters. After a quick stop at Miles Road Market, Cathy and I paid our $5 and mingled with the crowd.

Now you might think it would be easy to taste 12 wines – but it’s not. It’s hard work. After 5 or 6 you begin to forget exactly how your rating system works on the cheat sheet they give you. Let’s see, was the 2 check marks on the previous wine selection really as good as this wine that’s currently in your glass? Should you add another check mark to your scale? Hmmm… There’s never much doubt about my rating system….white wines are horrible and red wines range from good to yummy. Thanks to Dave and Dave (our wine pourers) who kept both Cathy and I on track along with all the other guests with smiles on their faces and gentle joking around to keep us all lighthearted.

As usual, I brought a couple of bottles home for my table. These were my favorites (and no, I did not write these descriptions) - 2007 Apaltagua Reserva Carmenere (Colchagua, Chile) $11.99 100% Estate grown Carmenere, an old French varietal now found only in Chile - dark berry fruit and spice aromas - cherry and plum with a slight vanilla note - soft finish.
And the 2007 Tamas Estates Double Decker Red (Central Coast, California)$10.99 Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Barbera - aged in neutral oak and stainless steel - black berry, cherry and plum fruit aromas and flavors, weighty on the palate with a smooth, spicey finish.

FROM WINE TO MOJITOS
After the tasting we were both hungry and decided to take a short hop further north to Chagrin Blvd to visit Trader Joes and Paladar. This was my first time into Trader Joes and frankly the appeal for this place is lost on me. It’s small, crowded, the people are rude (shoppers, not staff) and, unless you shop there all the time, you need a map to find anything. The produce is pre-packed in plastic (which I HATE) and their selection is skimpy. Maybe I need to try it again when it’s not so crowded and I haven’t already been plied with wine – but for sure this is not the place for me to shop.

So I needed to mellow out a bit and we headed over to Paladar. I’ve said it before in the blog and I’ll say it every time I’m there – this is a GREAT place! At 6:15 on Saturday when we walked in there was a 2 hour waiting list for a dining room table. I guess I'm not the only person that likes this place. Luckily it was still early enough that we found a small table in the bar and got seated. Mojito’s all around, some yukka & plantain chips and fresh guacamole and we were settled for an hour or so. Happy hour runs until 7 on Saturday, so we had plenty of time to order up $2 appetizers. We had my favorite rum smoked mahi mahi mini tacos (these are FANTASTIC), some chicken empanadas and some black bean empanadas. Oh my gosh, my stomach is growling now thinking about these! The staff is friendly, the music lively, the food wonderful and the mojitos tangy. Yum. This place – YOU MUST GO! http://www.paladarlatinkitchen.com/

SUNDAY SLIPPED INTO THE 60's - the decade not the temperature!

I had friends over on Sunday afternoon to catch season one of Mad Men. Ah huh, yes, we're currently into maybe season 5 coming up soon, but I had a few friends that hadn't seen this show yet so we crowded into my small living room and got the DVD rolling. To put us in the mood we drank Old Fashioned's and daiquries and nibbled on some things right out of the 60's. Deviled eggs, chips and homemade onion dip, little hot dogs rolled in crescent dough, tequilla jello shots and roasted asparagus. Brownies for dessert (no hash included - my source dried up years ago) and Lynn brought no-bake cookies just like Mom used to make!


Mad Men is one of those shows that cause lots of buzz around our office. Unlike sports (which I won't watch), this show gives all of us at the lunch table common ground and opens up a lot of talk of how things were, or weren't, for our parents who lived through the early 60's as working parents. This show is set before the Kennedy presidency, before NASA, before lots of things that we now take for granted. The secretarial pool was there for the men to 'dip into' as they saw fit, booze was openly available in executive offices (occupied by men only thank you very much), doctors smoked cigarettes during exams, women drank and smoked all through pregnancy and gays were firmly entrenched in their closets.

Aside from the good acting on the show, it's just a well done program giving us lots of food for thought. And a fun afternooon mimicing their style - just a little bit! Learn more about the show and make your very own Mad Men-style avatar like mine at www.amctv.com/originals/madmen

Inspired by Lynn, here is her recipe for no-bake cookies.

CHOCOLATE OATMEAL NO-BAKE COOKIES

2 cups sugar
6 Tbls. cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter
Combine sugar, cocoa, butter and milk in a saucepan. On medium heat, bring to a boil for one full minute - no stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. Drop by spoonful onto wax paper. Let cool for at least 30 minutes in refrigerator. Store in layers divided by waxed paper in fridge.



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